The foxes find out that Neil actually killed people while on the run.
Looks like tonight is jut a writing night for me lmao I’m not complaining.
Even in hindsight Neil could never have seen this coming. He’ll look back on it later and still have trouble untangling the series of events that, over the last few weeks, had led him here.
First, Riko’s “suicide.” When the news struck Neil was prepared, and he’d only been able to tell Andrew on the roof, torn between relief at Riko being gone and unease at the cold, cruel nature of the execution.
Which is exactly what it was. An execution.
He should have expected how fast news spread but it still knocked the wind out of him when Nicky came through the main hallway screeching like a bat out of hell to get all the Foxes to come out. He read the news article with a frantic speed, but his precise enunciation leaving no doubt about his words. Riko, the King, the Number One, had killed himself.
Kevin’s knees go out from under him and the Foxes seem to collapse in on themselves, folding like wet paper dolls. It seems wrong to celebrate, especially with Kevin making pathetic gasping noises on the floor. But what else are they supposed to do when confronted with the death of the man who, for a year, had made their lives a living hell? Who’d made other Raven’s lives a living hell for longer? For, collectively, more years than he’d been alive?
Next had been Kevin’s consequent breakdown. They joked about Kevin getting alcohol poisoning constantly but it had actually happened and of course Andrew had been the one to find him. He’d been the one to take Kevin to the hospital, tell Neil who on command told everyone else, and the one to drag Kevin back to Fox Tower by the hair to let Wymack verbally flay him alive. And when Andrew had found Coach to be too sympathetic he’d interrupted and delivered his own stripping words that could be summarized as “Get your head out of your ass,” “you will be taking drinking lessons from Renee,” and the ever pleasant, “you have appointments with Betsy booked until you graduate.” By the end of it Kevin looked even worse, but some small spark of life in his eye said some part of him recognized this as Andrew caring.
Thing began to get messy from there, moving over Kevin’s slippery slope to sobriety, the consequential decrease of over all alcohol consumed, and the subsequent replacement of drinking with other activities. Many things were suggested, most of them shot down by Andrew or Aaron, but the surviving options were (somehow) movie night, non-alcoholic game night, and bowling. Andrew had tried to shoot those down too but Neil had simply said in ever-improving Russian, “We need to do something, we can’t tell him not to drink to save his life and then bore him to death anyway.” Amazingly that had made Andrew let those options stand.
Watching the Foxes go from throwing a small ball with a raquet to rolling a large ball with their hands is, needless to say, entertaining. He observes them now, of blacklight night, Matt’s teeth glowing faintly in a grin as he pulls ahead on points. Kevin hasn’t gotten over sulking and rolling the ball between his ankles yet, but with Renee cheerful by his side he can’t sneak anywhere to get alcohol. It just makes him sulkier.
“Damn Neil, all that time on the road and you’re telling me you never once stopped at a bowling alley?” Nicky says, shaking his head and walking up to the front of their lane in his rented shoes. Neil rolls his eyes and shakes his head, leaning farther into Andrew. Andrew’s arm stays loose and heavy over his shoulders.
“I don’t know why any of you are surprised by anything I say anymore,” he grumbles loudly enough for Nicky and the Foxes to hear him.
“You know how it was,” he says to them with a shrug. Nicky hoots as he almost gets a strike and comes over to sit as Dan stands to take her turn.
“I mean I guess,” Nicky pries, “but even though I know it wasn’t all action movie-esque I still picture it that way.” He snorts.
“Of course the heroes always kill villains along the way in action movies so I guess that isn’t a very good way to think of it either.”
Andrew goes even stiller than normal when he feels Neil tense, and looks at him when he feels Neil purposefully roll his shoulders to calm himself. Kevin, on Andrew’s other side, feels he cushion shift with Andrew and looks at him, then Neil. Kevin doesn’t say anything but Allison’s attention is caught.
“Don’t tell me you actually ki-” She starts in a harsh whisper and Dan, walking back over, swats her.
“Allison,” she hisses and Matt gets up to take his turn but is obviously still listening. Neil shifts uncomfortably.
“We are not talking about this here,” Aaron suddenly snaps with a pointed look around, to the family on their right and the birthday party full of young children on their left. Everyone’s mouths snap shut but their eyes blaze with curiosity for the rest of the night.
They don’t register who won and Neil hasn’t felt this cornered in a long time as they filter into Fox Tower. He’s stopped by a hand on his arm and jumps away from Allison and right into Andrew’s chest.
“Back off,” he snarls over Neil’s shoulder and Allison scowls.
“Fuck off monster,” she snaps at him and Neil glares at her, stepping away from Andrew and scowling.
“Don’t call him that,” he snaps and hands come between them, Dan pushing him and Allison apart.
“This is not the way to talk to each other,” she says with authority and both Neil and Allison pull farther from each other.
“Good,” Dan says and turns her head to address Allison, but Neil beats her to it.
“What do you want?” He says snappishly, tiredly, and Allison grinds her teeth.
“You said you killed someone-” she starts but Nicky steps in, “he never said anything-”
“It was insinuated through body language,” Allison snaps and looks at Neil. Neil stares her down.
“So what?” Neil asks, “is that what it’s going to take for you to take back what you all said after Baltimore? For me to not be a Fox anymore? Because it’s true,” he says icily and the word ‘true’ falls to the floor with a crash like a lead weight.
“We were on the road for years. More than once we were cornered, or came back to hotel rooms or wherever we were sleeping to find my father’s men, and I didn’t have a choice dammit,” he snarls, reaching up to tug at his hair.
“She made sure I could protect myself, and sometimes I had to, and sometimes people died but-” he says and he doesn’t realize he’s breathing too fast until there’s a hand on the back of his neck bending him over and squeezing.
“Breathe,” Andrew snap at him and he gulps in air as Andrew pulls him standing straight again.
“Neil we’re not going to abandon you for doing what you had to do,” Matt says firmly. Renee and Dan nod.
“We didn’t mean to push,” Nicky says, even though it was Allison who did the pushing. Because of this Neil looks at her and her eyes are unreadable.
“I’m not going to apologize,” she says, and of course she isn’t, “but I will say this doesn’t change anything. You are a Fox.” Neil nods slowly and the hand on his neck tugs him back to follow Andrew as he leaves and they retreat to the roof.
“You’re going to tell me what went on those years,” Andrew comments. He’s not saying now, he’s not demanding, it’s a statement it’s a certainty. Neil knows he’ll tell him-
“Eventually,” Neil admits and almost as a reward Andrew hands him a lit cigarette.